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Election rigging slur on CPM

- Tripura party calls Bandh on counting day

Agartala, April 16: Elections to Tripura’s two Lok Sabha seats passed off peacefully on April 7 and 12 with an average of 84.84 per cent polling, but the post-election scenario is heating up with allegations of rigging by all Opposition parties.

Yesterday, a local cable TV channel showed how poll officials, the CPM’s polling agents and a few party cadres had been allegedly pressing the CPM symbol button on EVMs in booth number 56 of Bishalgarh Assembly segment under West Tripura parliamentary constituency.

This stirred a hornet’s nest as the Opposition Congress, in a hurriedly called news conference, described the entire Lok Sabha elections in Tripura a “farce” and demanded repolling in the entire West Tripura parliamentary constituency.

This was followed by news conferences by Trinamul Congress chairman Ratan Chakraborty, BJP state unit president Sudheendra Dasgupta and Tripura Gramin Vikash Congress president Subal Bhownik.

All of them were candidates of their parties in Lok Sabha elections in West Tripura. The Tripura Gramin Vikash Congress, a state party, has called a 12-hour Tripura bandh on May 16, the day of counting of ballots, to protest the “farcical elections” to the state’s two Lok Sabha seats.

Bhowmik, also a candidate for West Tripura, today organised a two-hour protest in front of the election department’s office with slogan-shouting party workers and supporters demanding repoll in West Tripura constituency and removal of chief electoral officer Ashutosh Jindal for his alleged partisan activities in favour of the ruling CPM.

“The video clip shown in the local cable TV channel establishes how the entire election process had been reduced to a farce by the CPM and the administration working for it,” said Bhowmik . He said as a candidate he had moved around in different places and polling stations but had found 70 per cent polling around 4.45pm. “But when polling ended, the election department stated that more than 84 per cent polling had taken place. How is it possible?” he asked.

He also blamed the election department for not giving a set of the electoral rolls to the Vikash Congress which was its “legitimate right”. “At a later stage we had been asked to purchase a set of electoral rolls, but when we offered to make the payment, the set was not made available to us. On one pretext or the other the election department avoided giving a set of electoral rolls to us.”.

Bhowmik said unless the election department took corrective measures by ordering a repoll in West Tripura, his party would sponsor a 12-hour Tripura bandh on May 16. The Trinamul, BJP and the Congress, too, made similar demands, saying all elections in Tripura under the Left dispensation were being reduced to a farce by armed cadres .

Chakraborty, Dasgupta and PCC spokesman Ashok Sinha demanded repoll and removal of Jindal from the post of chief electoral officer and threatened agitation against the “farcical” election.

“Jindal has been working for the CPM and it is very strange that officers who were dropped from duty in the run-up to the Assembly elections last year were deployed for poll duty in the Lok Sabha polls,” said Sinha.

Jindal was not available for comments, but sources in the election department said they would inquire into the video clippings.